Anxiety comes in so many shapes and sizes, each one different and unique to you. It could be as severe as panic attacks, or as simple as butterflies in your stomach. Whether it’s nausea, dizziness, experiencing dread or panic attacks, you are not alone!
As a teenager, I’ve experienced my fair share of anxiety. I was diagnosed with social anxiety in 2017, and as someone who has been through panic attacks, nausea and the many other symptoms of this condition, I know that anyone can learn how to tell their anxiety to “be quiet and to take a back seat!” This is your life and anxiety can sometimes take control, but the methods below will teach you how to take back the reigns and hopefully help you to cope with these feelings during such unprecedented times. You are never alone. If you feel like you need a little more help to deal with your anxiety, there are a range of websites such as Young Minds and people who are here for you, 24 hours a day. You can even call your GP and tell them how you are feeling. The most important thing to remember is that ANXIETY DOES NOT DEFINE WHO YOU ARE! Here are some ways to help yourself cope when you are experiencing anxiety.
This one may sound complicated but is pretty simple in reality. Picture your anxiety as a person or an animal or an object. Now, I want you to imagine that this random person, animal or object has walked into your life and started to control you. Outrageous, right? Now, this is the important bit – whenever you experience anxiety, imagine a person or animal or object. Now make them smaller. Watch them diminish. Make them quieter and smaller until they are so insignificant, you don’t know how they had control in the first place. This technique allows you to physically reduce the anxiety you are experiencing and is very easy to do anywhere, as it requires nothing but a bit of imagination. It will help to ground you and refocus you, and by doing so will help to reduce the anxiety and allow you to cope with the situation at hand. Whether you do this for 30 seconds or a few minutes, it’s an easy way to help yourself cope with these difficult emotions.
Numbers! I know, sorry to everyone who hates maths, it’s actually a thinking game! When you’re feeling a bit panicked or experiencing difficult emotions, just sit down…breathe. Now, focus on the following:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can hear
- 3 things you can smell
- 2 things you can touch
- 1 thing you can taste
Say them aloud. List them in your head. Ask someone to help you with it. These simple 5 steps will ground you, whilst refocusing your attention to the present, allowing your brain time to regroup and collect itself. Mental health is just as relevant as any other medical issue, and it has to be treated as such—your opinion matters. Your thoughts count. This little process will help to bring you back to the current and reduce those nasty feelings of anxiety. If you practice this regularly and every time you go through an anxious situation, it will begin to help you cope.
I am not here to tell you “just breathe” as this can be frustrating; however, breathing techniques can be your saviour in a panic attack or when going through symptoms of anxiety. It requires practice to help truly, but it is definitely worth it! Here it is:
- Imagine your lungs are balloons, as bright and colourful as you would like.
- Now, fill those balloons from the bottom to the top – feel the air fill the bottom of those balloons from your belly to right underneath your collar bones.
- Next, hold the air in the balloons for 10 seconds, focusing on the colours and the size of the balloons.
- Let the air go, slowly, through your mouth. Allow the air to float out of the balloons, watching them reduce in size and gradually get smaller and smaller.
- Repeat these steps until you feel calm enough!
This method aims to slow your breathing down when life seems to get on top of you. It will help to calm you and reduce the anxious emotions wreaking havoc. This method is literally a lifesaver!
These are just three ways to help reduce anxiety. There are so many more to explore online and through apps. If you need more help, never be afraid to reach out to friends, family or seek help from your GP or anonymous counsellors on sites such as Kooth or Papyrus.
Above all, remember, your anxiety will NEVER define who you are, and you are not alone!
Article by Megan Lawrence